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​Zuckerberg and Andreessen are a bit too cozy, lawsuit says

Facebook shareholders file a lawsuit alleging a conflict of interest between the social network's CEO and a board member.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is known for his philanthropy. In September, he announced plans to invest $3 billion to cure all disease by the end of the century.

James Martin/CNET

A lawsuit has been filed against Facebook's board of directors over dealings between company CEO Mark Zuckerberg and board member Marc Andreessen. The suit alleges the two colluded against Facebook shareholders, according to Bloomberg.

It all began a year ago when Zuckerberg decided he wanted to sell off hundreds of millions of his shares in the company. His goal: donate 99 percent of his stake in Facebook to philanthropy.

But there was a hitch. In doing this, he'd lose voting control of the company. So, before selling his stock, he asked shareholders to vote on whether he could maintain his voting power at Facebook. The shareholders said yes.

However, Andreessen, who represented shareholders in a special committee for this decision, was said to be secretly supplying Zuckerberg with information during the process. Andreessen is a well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist from the firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Andreessen allegedly told Zuckerberg about the progress of the shareholders' decision and assisted in the CEO's negotiations with them. The two men were said to have been privately texting back and forth during this time.

"This line of argument is not helping," read one text Andreessen reportedly sent Zuckerberg during a conference call in March, according to Bloomberg. "Now we're cooking with gas," read another text.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Delaware's Chancery Court in April, was just unsealed, according to Bloomberg. The people suing Facebook's board include pension funds and individual investors. For its part, Facebook admits no wrongdoing.

"Facebook is confident that the special committee engaged in a thorough and fair process to negotiate a proposal in the best interests of Facebook and its shareholders," wrote a Facebook spokesperson in an email.

An Andreessen Horowitz spokeswoman said the firm cannot comment on Facebook's pending litigation.